Finland plans significant rise in trade

Read the original news 

VietNam News English - 39 month(s) ago 3 readings

Viet Nam News spoke to Ambassador of Finland Kimmo Lahdevirta to mark his country's National Day today.

We welcome you as the new Ambassador of Finland to Viet Nam. Could you brief our readers of your priorities for Viet Nam during your term in office?

Ambassador Kimmo Lahdevirta

Ambassador Kimmo Lahdevirta

Thank you very much. My family and I have had a very pleasant start here in Viet Nam.

I will continue to build relations between our countries from the excellent basis created by our leaders and my predecessors since 1973, when diplomatic ties were established. Key areas of my work will include developing trade and economic co-operation, as well as political relations between our countries.

Viet Nam has had tremendous economic growth and development in the last decades. This means that our co-operation needs to adapt to the new circumstances. A key programme is the Innovation Partnership Programme (IPP), aimed at assisting the Vietnamese Government to strengthen its innovation system through public-private partnerships. I believe this is a crucial element in Viet Nam's goal to become an industrialised nation by 2020. The programme has already created a lot of interest in Viet Nam.

Tackling problems caused by climate change is another of our priorities. The Embassy of Finland has been engaged in various discussions on climate change between the donor community and the Government of Viet Nam since 2008. We are currently channelling our financial support for climate change adaptation and mitigation through forestry projects, Energy and Environment Partnership Programme for the Mekong Region (EEP Mekong), and Fund for Local Co-operation (FLC).

In the area of trade and economic co-operation, I will do my best to raise awareness of business opportunities in both countries. Finland's interest in Viet Nam is increasing and has been demonstrated by both business delegations and official delegations visiting Viet Nam recently.

I will also do my best to increase cultural exchanges between our countries. We will, for example, have a Finnish choir visiting Viet Nam in March next year.

Two-way trade turnover between the two countries remains comparitively limited, with both countries' potential, reaching US$235 million last year. What do you think should be done to boost trade relations between the two countries?

There is indeed room for improvement in our two-way trade, and I believe that is what's going to happen. There are now some 75 Finnish companies represented in Viet Nam, which is actually quite a big number compared to other countries in Southeast Asia. What's more, the trend is upwards. I expect investments to increase significantly by next year. Finland has excellent technological and knowledge based solutions to support Viet Nam's development, not only in ICT, but also in areas such as energy efficiency, other clean technologies and different machinery.

In addition to assisting Finnish companies to establish themselves in Viet Nam, we also promote Finnish Vietnamese joint ventures and exports from Viet Nam to Finland. Trade between the countries is all about partnerships, and its success can be measured by mutual benefits.

For its part, in order to boost trade, Viet Nam needs to continue creating an open business environment and a level playing field for companies to operate. According to feedback received, foreign companies expect Viet Nam to continue improving its vocational training system and especially the language skills base of the workforce, so that companies can find enough qualified staff.

I also believe that a Free Trade Agreement to be negotiated between the EU and Viet Nam would boost trade between our countries.

At the CG meeting in December last year, Finland pledged to provide assistance worth $33.92 million, down 31.59 per cent from 2009. What are the main reasons behind that and will ODA provided for Viet Nam keep decreasing in following years?

Helsinki, the capital and the largest city in Finland. — VNS File Photo

Helsinki, the capital and the largest city in Finland. — VNS File Photo

Since 1979, Finland has provided about $335 million as official development assistance to Viet Nam. Viet Nam has developed significantly over the recent years, now reaching the lower middle income level. We expect this kind of development to continue in the future. In these circumstances it is natural that the ODA grant gradually decreases and more emphasis is put on commercial co-operation.

However, I want to emphasise that there is no envisioned end date for development co-operation, and we still have many ongoing bilateral and regional programmes, such as those described earlier.

During a visit to Finland by Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan in 2009, the two sides signed a framework agreement in education and training co-operation. How has the agreement progressed? Which achievements have been made over the past years?

Co-operation between Viet Nam and Finland in the education sector has accelerated in recent years. This year, Finland supported several networks and projects to promote an institutional reform in higher education, administration, methodology and pedagogy. They also enhanced capacity building and human resources in higher education.

For example, Hue University and Jyvaskyla University of Applied Sciences have a co-operation project to facilitate Quang Tri Teacher Training College's capacity to develop its action, to strengthen its regional role and to provide education relevant to working life. A teacher training workshop called "Sharing experiences on teacher education in Viet Nam and Finland" was also organised in Ha Noi this year.

Science, technology and innovations are very much linked to the education sector. It is thus worthwhile to remember that Finland and Viet Nam signed also a Memorandum of Understanding on Scientific and Technological Co-operation in 2008. And as mentioned before, promotion of information and knowledge society is one of the priority themes in development co-operation between Finland and Viet Nam.

The unemployment rate in Finland was last reported at 7 per cent in October this year while the rate averaged at 9.5 per cent from 1988 to 2010. Could you share your country's experience in dealing with the unemployment issue?

Finland at a glance:

Capital: Helsinki

Official language: Finnish, Swedish

Total area: 338,424sq.km

Population: nearly 5.4 million

Currency: Euro (EUR)

National flag: On a white background, it features a blue Nordic cross, which represents Christianity.

The present Finnish government, like its predecessor, considers maintaining high employment rate as one of its key priorities and the basis of Finnish way of life. Historically, Finland's economic success and social cohesion has been built around consensus seeking in industrial relations, as well as by focusing on education, which has instigated high productivity, innovations and global competitiveness.

Capital: Helsinki

Official language: Finnish, Swedish

Total area: 338,424sq.km

Population: nearly 5.4 million

Currency: Euro (EUR)

National flag: On a white background, it features a blue Nordic cross, which represents Christianity.

During the previous government's time (2007-11), it proved challenging to increase employment rate as planned due to the global financial crisis and the recession caused by it. However, after production and exports started to recover and the government's recovery policies started to kick during 2010, the increase in unemployment was halted.

During the recent years the Finnish government has invested considerably in preventing unemployment of young adults. There have been structural reforms seeking to upgrade skills levels and to enhance the functionality of labour market. These reforms have included enhanced business services, employment services and active job seeking, as well as increased training opportunities for unemployed people. Employment subsidies have also been used to boost demand for labour. And finally, separate appropriations within the state budget have been directed at alleviating problems caused by sudden structural changes in certain industrial sectors. — VNS

There is no comment

Please Sign up or Login to comment.

Top page